Several years ago the website ROCOR Studies published a lengthy interview with Fr. Robert Taft, S.J. entitled, “Are You Part of the Problem, or Part of the Solution?” In it, Taft discussed the history of his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and Russian Orthodoxy in general, including his efforts to bridge the divides between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. With the Pan-Orthodox Council just over the horizon, some might wonder whether it will be “part of the problem” or “part of the solution” when it comes to Catholic/Orthodox relations. Sadly, it seems that the hierarchs of ROCOR wish it to become the former rather than the latter.
For those curious, the ROCOR synod’s eight-page epistle on the upcoming council can be found online here. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a conservative synod still enchanted by a somewhat romantic view of Orthodox history and a hyper-exclusivist ecclesiology which has less to do with “Holy Tradition” and far more to do with ethnic and national chauvinism. This is not to say the entire critical commentary is bad. For instance, the synod’s commentary on the conciliar document “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” rightly denounces the use of the term “human person” for “man” in the document, arguing that this terminological switcheroo is predicated upon both a flawed anthropology and theology. In the end, however, ROCOR wishes to keep alive the dominant ecclesiology of the Russian Orthodox Church, one which sets it as the pinnacle of not just world Orthodoxy, but Christianity as a whole.